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View Diary: Medical bills cause 62 percent of bankruptcies (58 comments)

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  •  My family has felt this pinch... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randallt, marina

    My mother passed away from a two year battle with cancer in early 2010, she was uninsured. At the time, my family was not in dire economic circumstances, but in the two years since, we have been reeling from the cost of her treatments.

    Hospitals in our hometown would quote us a price for a simple procedure or test, then bill us three or four times the amount, even after we paid the initial quote in cash. It got to the point she had to fly to Mexico for treatment because the costs in the United States were so out of control (Mexico cost approximately 1/2, still not cheap). A week in the hospital would cost tens of thousands of dollars, so my dad quit his practice and began to tend to my mother full-time at home. This was horribly mentally and physically taxing to him and my family, there is nothing worse than watching the vibrant, strong woman who raised you waste away to a frail and disoriented shell.

    After she died, the hospitals continued to bill us for procedures that had been completed months beforehand. We still haven't tallied up the total amount, we are too sickened and upset with the way we were treated to do so, but we estimate it cost between $150-200 thousand dollars.

    The system is so completely broken when hospitals and insurance companies monopolize it. The cost of healthcare has gotten so out of control, that even those with the savings to pay, who decided against purchasing insurance, are washed out with the tide of bills and frivolous fees that are tacked on every time a doctor sneezes. A five minute consultation with a doctor costs hundreds of dollars, yet the orderlies and nurses who do most of the caring get paid near poverty level wages.

    I myself do not have insurance, and fear what will happen if I get injured or sick. I have never been a patient at a hospital in my life (even born at home), as my parents were always able to care for me at home, I suppose I have been lucky for the past 23 years.  

    Sometimes I wonder,if those who oppose healthcare reform have ever borne witness to the human and monetary cost that our current, for profit, system of healthcare really imposes on people. Any one who claims to have studied the Constitution would have also studied the Federalist Papers and other corollary documents. There is no way they could have missed the blatant references made by the authors to a government that helps protect the people for the common good.  

    When hospitals are allowed to engage in such price gouging, propagated by the insurance industry, and held sacred by the 1%, it is a violation of the governments purpose to protect the common good. There is nothing good about the system. Anyone from a nation with universal healthcare knows this, and the only ones there who disagree are those in a position to profit from the system changing.

    This study comes as no surprise. My family is not destitute, yet, but my father, at  age 64, has to go back to work in order to save what little we have left. Now, retirement is a whisp of a dream, and the woman he loved won't be there to help.

    "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." -Goethe

    by sprint1745 on Thu Jan 05, 2012 at 10:02:34 AM PST

    •  And how many people can afford insurance? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mumtaznepal, DSPS owl, LarryNM, splashy

      It's not cheap and getting higher all the time.  And it sounds like if you have it, it won't matter anyway, because they will cancel you the minute you get sick.  The problem is out of control costs and no one wants to deal with that because that is our free capitalistic system at work.

      Sorry about your mom and all you've been through.  When my sister in law died my BIL paid bills for years till he finally paid it off.  My husband died of cancer but he was at the VA.  I think about that sometimes.  I could have had a lot of bills if it weren't for the VA.

      •  VA hospitals... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cocinero, LarryNM

        So many rely on the VA for coverage, and although they are stretched to the limit on what they can provide, without them many sick people would have even less access to proper care.

        Costs of healthcare have risen at an exponential rate, and I believe a lot of the blame lies at the feet of the insurance industry. Since they have the leverage to negotiate with the hospitals over what they are charged, while those paying out of pocket are stuck with whatever the hospital deems necessary.

         I don't understand why a hospital charges $20 for a dose of asprain that costs them .01. A single IV drip costs over $100. An ambulance ride $600. They claim they have to charge the prices due to the high volume of care they give out to people unable to pay. But, those unable to pay are treated with the bare minimum then kicked out onto the street. Somewhere along the line the money disappears into a black hole and its certainly not going to the nurses, residents, or orderlies who do the lions share of the work. The doctors get a healthy cut, but even they get paid a paupers wage compared to the salary drawn by the chairmen, the ceos and top executives at the hospital and insurance cos.  

        HealthCare is such doublespeak anyways. Hospitals care no more for your health than they do for their profits. Few doctors still believe the Hippocratic Oath, and abide by the important principals it seeks to imbue upon the profession.

        "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." -Goethe

        by sprint1745 on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 01:53:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  your family's losses are huge (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dkamus, cocinero

      I'm so sorry.

    •  are you 23 yr. old? (0+ / 0-)

      if so, you might be able to buy a reasonably priced individual policy.

      •  I got off of this train (6+ / 0-)

        as a longtime contract/freelance worker.

        I had been paying many hundreds per month for not-particularly-super (so I thought) coverage but then when I actually needed to use the insurance, they refused to cover things that I thought were covered and ended up requiring so much administrative overhead that I lost weeks of work on the telephone, chasing documents, sending faxes, on hold, etc.

        When all was said and done, I'd paid $many thousands for insurance that had only been willing to pay $a few hundred, the rest ended up in collections for some time before I gave up and paid out of pocket, they cancelled the policy on me anyway, and basically said "so sue us."

        If I'd never bought the damned policy in the first place, I'd be thousands richer right now and have a better credit rating.

        Never again. Might as well just pay out of pocket rather than buy a private individual policy. They pretty much disclaim all coverage right out the gate, then cover even less in the end, all while costing you twice to ten times what regular employees pay to get full coverage.

        -9.63, 0.00
        I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

        by nobody at all on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 08:29:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I would rather... (0+ / 0-)

        I would rather it be picked up by whomever employs me. I currently don't have a job, and there is no way I can afford the premiums right now. While (as far as I know) I am perfectly healthy, the premiums are still far outside of my budget. Between my car payment, cell phone, rent, gas, food, and credit card, health insurance seems like a waste. I understand that if I get sick, it will cost an arm and a leg (without insurance, quite literally), but its a risk I'm just going to have to take.

        "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." -Goethe

        by sprint1745 on Sat Jan 07, 2012 at 01:32:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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